What Technology did the Beatles use to be Innovative?

The Beatles were very innovative whilst making Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They used devices such as sounds that were pre-recorded, unusual instrumentation for a typical pop/rock band genre, multi-track recording (ADT), modular effects, direct input, vari-speeding and things like reverb, echoes, fades, looping etc.

They had unlimited access to all the state of the art technology at Abbey Road studios for this album. Evidence of this is in 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' because they used tape looping and vocal echoes on the lyrics "the world" in the song. These features were very new to the pop culture and made this particular song very unique. This song also included the music from a fairground which they pre-recorded to experiment with. They tried several different things to get the sound and effect that they wanted from the recorded fairground music, but none of the things they tried were working for them. Therefore, they literally chopped the tape up, threw the pieces in the air and stuck them together in a different order at random to create a jumbled up, back to front musical fairground sound. This was the first time that this had ever been done before, making it very different and original to all other songs at this time.

There is another song on this album called 'Fixing A Hole'. This tune includes a twang effect on the bass guitar in the first verse. This feature is called automated double tracking (ADT). Automated double tracking was a very new feature in the music industry in the 60s, as The Beatles were the first to use it, which made this song more enhanced than any other of it's era.

Additionally, 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' (LSD) includes unusual instruments such as a sitar and a tambura drone. This instrumentation is extremely unusual to this particular genre because it is usually used in Indian music. This makes The Beatles seem unique because they challenge and twist the styles and features of their genre, therefore making them interesting and more popular as a group. There are some floats and echoes heard on lyrics "picture yourself" and "cellophane flowers". These were made by recording the sounds straight from an amplifier.

The effects put on these lyrics were done purposely to sound like being in a trance (the effect the drug LSD has on you) which fits the hidden meaning of the song. The song then fades out at the end, which was a new technique in pop culture.

In the song "You Really Got Me" they needed a very particular sound, so they used a mic to record the sound of a razor blade cutting into the front of an amplifier speaker and then proceeded to poke several pins into it to get the sound that they wanted. Other effect units included the 'wah wah' pedal and the fuzz box to create vibrato and distortion on some of the notes in various songs.

In conclusion, The Beatles were very innovative. They used very aleatoric music, and ADT was very effective on most of their tracks on this album, creating innovation and originality. In my opinion, the technology they used in this album enhanced the songs a lot more, just how they intended to, and created a lot of smooth and effective ideas for music of the present day. It has allowed bands of today to take their ideas and interpret them into their own music. It really caught people's attention, whether they found the new effects strange and not to their taste or they loved it, it was still a very captivating album for everyone of the time, and even now.

Written By: Pippa Timmons (Stockport, United Kingdom)

Go Back to Music and Sound for more

Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice